Many question the wisdom of holding this new administration accountable, not taking into consideration that when the previous administration came to power in 1992, many said “give them a chance.” In granting this chance what happened from day one were moves to remove career diplomats and replace them with political appointees, which were not without racial overtones. In Customs and Excise the entire top brass was removed. And the transgressions continued, growing bolder and bolder with each passing day.
When Mr Bharrat Jagdeo ascended to the presidency this society was told by prominent citizens, including Mr Eusi Kwayana, to give the young man chance, since he was the youngest president, and did not bring with him the baggage of the 1960s. Under his stewardship Guyana was ranked by Transparency International as the most corrupt English-speaking Caribbean country. Dr Roger Luncheon in a court of law said there was no qualified African to head any foreign mission when evidence was known to contrary. Groups were marginalised and acts were conducted to deny freedom of expression and silence the voice of dissent or alternative opinion through economic strangulation, as committed against some private media, the Critchlow Labour College and the Guyana Trades Union Congress. This is just a tip of the iceberg.
Having lived through the PNC and PPP governments there are some who today demand that Forbes Burnham and Desmond Hoyte be held accountable for their stewardship. In principle there is no problem with such a call. What is disturbing, however, is that Messrs Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar who are alive are not being held to account.
Conscious of the path this nation has travelled the current managers of our business must be held to higher standards from day one. They have campaigned for the job, fully aware of what it entails, even more so since they were in the opposition and shadowed the PPP government. The people have granted them the privilege to manage their affairs.
While one can accept that there will be teething problems in understanding the nuances of day-to-day executive responsibilities, what we must not accept, from day one, is the violating of time-honoured principles, the constitution and laws and the transgressing of rights. These tenets need no experience; what they need is making the time to understand them and where in doubt, consult. The reference to time here does not mean days, it means pausing to think and confirm before acting.
Government is about the people and the people’s development. In our representative democracy we are not ruled. Our affairs are entrusted to the hands of our representatives who will ensure their proper management. Having fought against being ruled during slavery, indentureship and colonialism, the right for political self-determination won with independence means that we no longer rule any group, but our affairs are managed by those we elected.
This nation and its leaders must disabuse themselves of the idea that we are still being ruled. When one is being ruled he/she no longer enjoys the right of participation and self-determination. The Guyana Constitution expressly states how we ought to be treated, how government ought to manage the affairs of state, inclusive of our well-being, and our role in ensuring that such is done consistent with our hopes, dreams and aspirations. Nowhere, in this supreme instrument are the people placed as subjects and their leaders rulers.
People get the government they deserve. The people have elected the APNU+AFC to do better than the previous government and they must. The power lies in the hands of the people who entrust it to their elected leaders.
Without the people leaders have no power. The accusation by some that holding this government to account will make them one term couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is not holding them to account and ensuring they stay on course would more than likely make them a one-term administration.
Every error in judgement and action by the APNU+AFC and their failure to avoid and correct them makes the case for the PPP to return to office.